Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sugar: The Glycemic Index

“To understand sugars and carbohydrates and the insulin response to them, it’s also extremely helpful to know about the Glycemic Index of foods. The Glycemic Index is a listing based upon real-life blood-sugar levels after the ingestion of various foods. Low-glycemic foods rank between 0 and 40 on the scale and raise the blood sugar slowly and gradually. They are the least likely to cause blood-sugar fluctuations, followed, of course by moderate-glycemic foods. High-glycemic foods, however, cause an alarmingly fast rise in blood sugar, followed by an equally severe blood-sugar crash. In other words, they are high inducers of insulin.” (Get the Sugar Out by Gittleman)

Here are some foods and how they rate on the Glycemic Index of Foods:

Index of 80 to 100- corn flakes, French baguette, instant white rice, rice krispies, white bread, whole-wheat bread, carrots, apricots, corn chips, rolled oats, honey, white rice, brown rice, corn, ripe banana, white potato

Index of 40 to 70- raisins, mars candy bar, white and whole-wheat spaghetti, beets, apple juice, applesauce, potato chips, lactose, frozen peas, sucrose, sweet potato, navy and lima beans, steal cut oatmeal, grapes, oranges, orange juice

Index of 10 to 40- apples, pears, tomato soup, ice cream, chickpeas, skim and whole milk, yogurt, fructose, plums, peaches, grapefruit, cherries, soybeans, peanuts

Keep in mind:

1. Foods that rank lower on the index help maintain weight, balance blood sugar, and give better, longer-term energy than higher-index foods, which give quick bursts of energy.

2. Eating some protein or fat with moderate- or high-glycemic foods helps to slow down the body’s insulin response and keep blood sugar more steady.

3. Even when they rank equal to whole-grain products on the Glycemic Index, processed carbohydrates such as white pasta are still less desirable than whole-grain products because they lack vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Click here for a glycemic index chart.

Snow Leopard

Kim and I went to the zoo on Monday WITHOUT kids!!

Oh how nice it was to be able to spend as much time as we wanted with each animal... and our cameras! I'm not even going to tell you how many pictures were taken between the two of us. Just know that it was a lot!

But that's how we have fun. And I just love our zoo animals so much!

The first animal you come to at our zoo is the beautiful snow leopard. I love all wild cats. I think they are my favorites of all the animals. The snow leopard is often hiding where we can't see him very well but he was out and pacing around this time. 


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Their tales are MASSIVE!

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I want one.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sugar: Simple and Complex Carbs

If you missed the beginning of my sugar series you can catch up with these links:

Sugar: How Much Are You Eating?
Sugar: So Many Names
Sugar: More on Labels

(info from Get the Sugar Out by Anne Louise Gittleman)

Carbohydrates are one of three energy-producing nutrients our bodies need. The other two are protein and fat. As a fuel, carbohydrates are the cleanest burning of the three and the best provider of glucose, a fuel our muscles need for get-up-and-go and a fuel our brains need for clear thinking and steady behavior.

There are two significantly different types of carbohydrates--simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates, which consist of one or two sugar units in every molecule, are also known as simple sugars. They supply virtually instant energy for the body, but they don’t provide energy that lasts. As you might have guessed, table sugar (also known as dextrose or sucrose) is one type of simple sugar. But so are natural sweeteners like honey and molasses; fructose, which is found naturally in fruits and can also be a sweetener; and lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar found in dairy products.

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are made up of long chains of simple sugars. As their name implies, they are much more complex in structure than simple sugars and require longer digestion to be absorbed. This is beneficial in the long run because the sugars they contain are released more slowly and gradually in the bloodstream, supplying steadier, longer-lasting energy for the body. Complex carbohydrates are found in starches (such as whole grains and starchy vegetables such as potatoes), legumes (such as beans and peas), and vegetables (such as lettuce, broccoli, and zucchini).

It is important to differentiate between simple and complex carbs. Go for complex and limit the simple.

The problem is that most things that SHOULD be complex carbohydrates actually are more like simple carbohydrates after all the processing that they go through. Pasta, breads and bagels are treated by the body like simple sugars because they are highly refined. According to Gittleman, “In refining, nutrient- and fiber-rich whole grains are converted into processed foods that have a long shelf life, but many calories and few nutrients. Nutritionally, there is little difference between processed carbohydrates and simple sugars. In fact, far from being healthy foods, these processed carbohydrates contribute to blood-sugar, weight, and malnutrition problems and give us little in return.”

So, we eat sugar or processed carbs. The body breaks them down. Sugar is released into the bloodstream. In response to the high amounts of sugar the pancreas secretes insulin.  Insulin helps restore blood-sugar equilibrium. When you eat excess sugar you may notice that you experience a burst of energy but then quickly hit a low as well. But what you may not know is that the insulin is removing sugar from the bloodstream and storing it as fat.

Isn’t that fun!?

We are eating sugary foods that are loaded with calories. Our bodies store all that extra sugar as fat. But we are still hungry because our bodies get no nutrients from those refined sugary foods.

Make good choices with the carbs!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Oh. My. Gosh!!

No wonder babies scream their heads off when they have earaches! I about did the same last night!

Early Saturday morning (like REAL early) I woke up with an awful earache. I can't ever remember having an earache before. I'm sure I have but I was not prepared for what I was feeling! I was up for an hour searching the internet for something, ANYTHING! to do to lessen the pain. Mike was so sweet and stayed up with me for the whole hour doing anything I asked him to do to help. I know he likes his sleep so I really appreciated having him up with me in the middle of the night.

Eventually, after some vinegar in the ear and heat, I was able to fall back asleep.

I woke up Saturday feeling like my ear was plugged. A few hours later that plugged feeling crept into my other ear as well. I felt like my head was two feet wide and I was inside my head all day. It was weird. But it didn't hurt. Just annoyed me worse than my kids do when they fight non-stop all day long.

Right before bed I couldn't take it anymore. It was driving me crazy and starting to hurt again. Mike ran to the store to get some ear drops. They sucked. I went back to using the vinegar. I also used olive oil and garlic throughout the day. And oils that my mother-in-law brought for me. But when my ear decided it was going to hurt then it was going to hurt no matter what I did.

People were telling me I should just go to the doctor and get antibiotics but here's the thing about that...
1. Antibiotics kill all bacteria and it is likely you will just get sick again because you don't have the good bacteria built up to fight off the bad bacteria.
2. It also causes candida yeast overgrowth in your intestines and adds to the lovely bloat and makes it hard to lose weight.
3. Antibiotics would only help if I had an ear INFECTION but after some research I was pretty sure I just had an earACHE that was a result of having a cold.

In the middle of the night I woke up with extreme pain in my ear again. (Not the same ear as the night before though.) I'm pretty sure that Satan himself entered my ear. I was crying. I can't remember the last time I felt that much pain. If I had to choose earache or birthing a baby I'd probably pick the baby thing. Ears just should not hurt like mine did!!

After an hour of crying like a baby and trying everything in the world to make the pain stop it finally started to lessen. I went back to sleep. (By the way... Mike was up with me again. Losing his sleep even though he had to get up for work in the morning. Just wanted to tell you all I think he's pretty awesome.)

I woke up this morning completely exhausted. Mike was working so I got the kids sitting on the couch with some cereal and cartoons and I fell asleep on the couch for two hours. I'm still completely wiped out after two nights of not much sleep but my ears are actually feeling a lot better today. They don't feel plugged up and I've only had moments of very slight pain that went away almost immediately. I'm hoping this is the end. I'm hoping that I've managed to beat this without a visit to the doctor.

Fingers crossed! Because earaches are the worst!

What is your favorite home remedy for an earache?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fitness Friday: Progress Report

And it's a good one. :)

Back in December I started writing fitness/getting healthy updates. It was my start. I was trying to exercise more and eat right. It was a slow start but I'm doing much better now. Habits seem to have been changed. Although it would be REALLL easy to slip back into those old habits.

This past week I have not exercised. I've been sick. I'm ready to start moving slowly again but no way will I be doing an all out, leave it all on the floor workout yet. Soon though. Before the sick week I had got a few days of exercise in but the week before those few days was also a break because I had hurt my back. As much as I hate exercising I honestly can't wait to be back to 100% again and be able to exercise every day. (Yeah. I just said that!)

Anyways... here is some progress.

On December 8 I took my measurements. (If you aren't sure how to do that click here.) On February 20 I took them again. Here is what those numbers are:

                             12/8/2012                 2/20/2012
Chest                    36                            36
R bicep                 11 1/4                      11 1/4
L bicep                 11 1/4                       11     
Waist                    31 1/2                       30  (woo hoo!!)
Hips                     42 1/2                       41  (woo hoo!!)
R thigh                  24                            23 1/2
L thight                 24                            23 3/4

I had never measured myself before when losing weight and I am sooo glad that I did this time! It's not a huge difference but I'm pretty small to start with and not a ton overweight so small is all I am going to see for a long time. And I'm perfectly ok with that!

My weight on January 6 was 149 and my body fat was 28.6%.
Today my weight is 143 and my body fat is 27%.

It's a slow journey for me. Always is. But I'm moving forward and feeling healthy! I like it! Hard work and changing lifestyles is definitely the way to go when it comes to weight loss. My goal weight is 139. I know that I can lose more than that but I am happy at 139. I'm not giving myself a lower number because in the past when I've reached my low number I've lost my motivation to continue with my changes. Without having that bottom number I'll just have to keep going. Who knows what my body can do!?

Anyone else making changes for healthy living? How is your progress going?

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I have a little peeve.

I see it a lot.

I realize that not everyone has the same beliefs as me but when I ask for prayer it is different than saying "hey! Think some positive thoughts for me!"

You see... positive thoughts don't do anything to help. You can think about me all day long and it will have no effect on my life unless you start thinking along the line of my friend Kim and have a thought like "Laura is sick. I think I'll take her some chicken noodle soup." And then actually follow through on that thought. In that way... yes. Positive thoughts are helpful.

But that's usually not what people mean when they say "sending positive thoughts your way."

Those thoughts aren't going to reach me or make a difference.

But prayer does.

Prayer changes things.

Like two nights ago... Liza was in tears from an earache. I could have tried thinking positive thoughts all night long. I could have hoped that I was sending some positive energy her way. But it wouldn't stop her earache. It wouldn't make her feel any better. Instead, we prayed. And we prayed until that ear was all the way better. Prayer helps because God is real. Liza's ear hasn't hurt at all since we prayed for it that night.

I'm not saying that thinking positively about someone else is wrong. It's just that if you only stop at thinking it changes nothing. If you think of someone then send them a note in the mail, say hi on their FB wall with a little bit of encouragement, give a compliment, say a prayer, order them a meal that's paid for and have it delivered to their house. Let there be some kind of action attached to that positive thought.

You may be wondering what brought all of this on right now. It's simply that I think about this a lot but tonight I tried a new yoga dvd and at the end the instructor clinked these little bells together and said something like "know that your positive thoughts are vibrating throughout the universe."

Um. Ok.

Maybe they are out there vibrating. Fine. But prayers are what makes a difference.

Sugar: More on Labels

Whenever I do a series I have every post already wrote and ready to go before I start posting. It just works well for me to get everything together and in order and then just post a part each day. But I’m going to go off the old routine today and add a post that I hadn’t originally had ready to go.

I figure since we are talking about reading labels that I would explain a little more about that and what I’ve learned.

Your nutrition label is going to tell you how many grams of sugar are in a serving. We now know that you can divide that number by four to get teaspoons of sugar which is for me, much easier to picture and understand.

We also now have a list of all the names of sugar that we will find on our food labels. Some of those sugars are naturally occurring sugars… like fructose and lactose. Many of them are man-made sugars. The problem with nutrition labels though is that the grams of sugar listed include all sugars. It does not differentiate between natural or man-made.

So we must read our ingredients list to see if we are getting ADDED MAN-MADE SUGAR in our food.

Let’s look at the yogurt currently in my fridge to further understand all of this and how to get down to the BEST option.

Great Value Strawberry Yogurt
Serving size = 1 cup
Sugars = 33g
That’s about 8 teaspoons of sugar in a one cup serving of this yogurt. Now, some of it is naturally occurring sugars from the milk and fruit so let’s check the ingredient list to see if there is any added sugar.

Cultured Grade A Low Fat Milk, SUGAR, strawberries, fructose, water, modified food starch,…

Yep. Added sugar in this yogurt. And since it’s second on the ingredient list you can bet that there is a lot of it. Not your best option. (And I should probably find a better option to be feeding my kids!)

Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt
Serving size = 1 cup
Sugars = 17g
That’s about 4 teaspoons of sugar in a one cup serving. Half of what was in the Great Value yogurt but still a lot of sugar.
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized nonfat milk, EVAPORATED CANE JUICE,…

Can they make food without sugar!?!?! So we have added sugar once again. Not as much but it’s still there. It’s a better option but we haven’t found the best option.

Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
Serving size = 1 cup
Sugars 9g

We are now down to only two teaspoons of sugar per serving. Let’s check the ingredients…

Cultured pasteurized nonfat milk, live and active cultures.

Woo hoo! No added sugar!! Of course plain yogurt isn’t as tasty so something needs to happen to it. I use it in my smoothies. You can also mash up bananas and mix it in or chop up some strawberries. Adding your own fruit to the plain yogurt will get you a good-for-you fruit yogurt instead of a sugary not-so-good-for-you serving.

Go for the naturally occurring sugars over the man-made ones every time! Learn the names for sugar and read your ingredients list.

There are other foods that I've made the switch with. And still more I hope to find better options for. How about you? Maybe for the next week we can all do a few food exchanges in our own homes. Keep track of what you were using and the amount of sugar per serving and then find the better option. In a week or so I will put up a post where we can all share what we found. Might make the hunting for best options a little easier for everyone because just maybe we will all be looking at different food items.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Monday night I sat down and wrote about how we are ready to buy a house. Yesterday I shared how the comments that came to that only helped to solidify my convictions. But what happened after that gave me more and more confirmation.

I had been talking to Mike about the decision to move wherever God asks us to move and was emailing with a friend about how location was a non-issue. I sent the email and popped over to facebook and this was the latest update from a friend at the top of my page...

"Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Yeah! God is so cool like that. Of all the things that could have been the first thing I saw after replying to a friend about how I'm just going to do what God wants and not care about location and how I was certain that God had a neighborhood just for us... what I see is God's words DO NOT BE AFRAID OR DISCOURAGED. I'M WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO!

I laughed. It was a giddy little laugh. God was reassuring me once more that I would be ok. He gave me that even though I didn't need it. He loves me.

Then... the very next morning I showed up at Bible study and guess what it was about? Not living in fear. 

2 Timothy 1:7 God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Lysa TerKeurst says that "God's goal isn't to make us self-confident. It's to make us God-confident."

I'm confident in my God and His calling. His grace and His love. His plans for me and my family. I'm not able on my own. But with God... I can do anything He calls me to do.

I Will Follow by Chris Tomlin is easily one of my most favorite songs ever.

Sugar: So Many Names

Now that we know how much sugar we are consuming we need to start being smart about it.

You guys! If you are trying to cut extra sugar out of your diet you have to read the labels. Problem is that the labels are a bit tricky. Sugar goes by several different names and comes in different forms and if you don’t know what they are you could be eating lots of sugar without realizing it.

Some of these are naturally occurring sugars. Some are man made. The grams of sugar on your nutrition labels does not differentiate so read your labels and know what you are consuming.

Names for sugar in all it‘s various forms:

Barley malt
Beet sugar
Brown sugar
Buttered syrup
Cane-juice crystals
Cane sugar
Carob syrup
Corn syrup
Corn syrup solids
Date sugar
Diastatic malt
Ethyl maltol
Fruit juice and fruit juice concentrate
Glucose solids
Golden sugar
Golden syrup
Grape sugar
High-fructose corn syrup
Invert sugar
Malt syrup
malt dextrin
Raw sugar
Refiner’s syrup
Sorghum syrup
Turinado sugar
Yellow sugar

The easiest way to avoid added sugars in your foods is to eat natural foods. Man made foods almost always have added sugar. I eat a lot of meats, fish, fruits and veggies.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why Location Doesn't Really Matter

Yesterday I wrote about how we are finally ready to start looking for a home and I asked for any tips or advice on home buying that you might have. What surprised me was that several of you were all "Location! Location! Location!" I guess it just surprised me because it's not really an issue for me.

Now! Before you go thinking I'm all crazy let me explain myself. :)

Actually, let me start by saying that I KNOW that I am going to go about looking for a house differently than most and I understand why location SHOULD be important. It's ok if that is important to you and I in no way think that anyone else should just forget about it like I am willing to unless you come up with your own set of convictions.


I'm honestly not worried about location at all.

I've felt strongly for a while now that there is a neighborhood that we are called to. Some people do their missions outside of the United States. Some do their missions work within the United States. I believe that God will have our missions work within the neighborhood that we move to. There are families that need us.

And so I will go to whatever location God shows me.

I don't care if it isn't the best school in town. God won't just give Mike and I the grace we need but He will also give my kids the grace to not only survive but to thrive in their environment as well. It's a family mission. And as far as school goes... I'm the parent. I am the one who is responsible for my children. If the school is lacking then I just need to pick up the slack and make sure my kids are getting what they need.

I don't get the sense that God will stick us in the ghetto but I do know that it isn't going to be the prettiest, most successful neighborhood either. And I'm ok with that.

You can try to convince me that location truly is important but I'm not going to be convinced. Last night I read all the comments that came in and I emailed back and forth with a good, understanding friend who had offered up some thoughts. But here's the thing...

(If I pull out parts of your comment and share my thoughts on it it's not because I think you are wrong... it just helped me settle my convictions even more and I want to share it with others to help them understand.)

Someone said "You can always paint walls... you can't paint surroundings."

I know where she was coming from so it completely makes sense that she should share that tip. But my surroundings will simply be something along the lines of a neighborhood. Nothing spectacular. Probably some crazies. (But who hasn't called ME crazy at some point!?!?) I may not be able to paint the surroundings but the surroundings that I end up with will be able to be covered in prayer and changed by the grace and love of God!

I'm not worried about whether or not the house will sell when I am ready to move either. If I go where God sends me he isn't going to trap me there when He says it's time to move on. Plus... we plan to buy a cheap house and pay it off quickly. Once it's paid for we will begin saving for our next house. We should have nothing owed and plenty saved when it comes time to move again. I know. I know. Plans don't always work out. Either way, God's going to bless us for our obedience. I'm not worried about it.

This is an issue I am completely settled on. I have so many ideas in my head and they only fit within a neighborhood. I want to be the home where kids hang out all the time. Where they feel safe. Where they find love. (Not saying they won't be safe or finding love in their own homes.) I want to welcome in the kids who's parents are working and can't be home when school lets out. I want to use those education degrees I slaved for and help kids with their homework. I hope that I have a covered porch and that the bus stops right in front of my house so that I can invite the other parents to come up for coffee and hot chocolate while waiting for the bus to come on those cold mornings. And then just maybe we will all start talking and sharing our lives and maybe before you know it we'll be having Bible studies in the morning after the kids get on the bus.

Who knows!!! I know they are just ideas. Dreams. Thoughts. But God knows! God knows what will happen when we move where he wants us. It's an adventure that I am so excited about! I know it might not always be easy... but God didn't promise easy.

I imagine God scanning the whole earth... and saying, "I don't need the person who has a perfect background and perfect qualifications and everything all arranged and organized. I don't need [only] the woman who has her spices alphabetized and never gets them out of order. I just need a woman who will say yes. That's the woman I can use to change the world."  ~Lysa TerKeurst

Sugar: How Much Are You Eating?

Today I am beginning my series on sugar. As many of you know I am living my year without it because I am a sugar addict. I am by no means a nutritionist or an expert but I do believe that knowledge is power so I've been doing some studying and research. I will be sharing with you some of the things I have learned and found helpful.


“Refined sugar acts more like a drug that our bodies need to detoxify rather than a nutrient-supplying food. It has no nutrients and therefore we are consuming lots of calories but our bodies are being deprived of the nutrients needed to keep our bodies functioning properly.” (I forget where this came from. Bad me.)

First, let’s just get a little piece of information out of the way. Refined sugar is 99.4 to 99.7 percent pure calories. Fun!

Americans consume 152 pounds of sugar per year. That’s an average. I’m hardly eating any right now so that means someone else is eating more like 300 pounds of sugar a year. That’s nasty!

When sugar is labeled in grams it’s kind of hard to picture what 7 grams of sugar looks like. My mind doesn’t calculate that. But I found and easy way to make it click in my brain.

Want to figure out how much you eat in a day? Do this:

Take the number of grams per serving in your food and divide by 4. That will tell you how many teaspoons of added sugar you are eating. Keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 for men.

You might want to reconsider next time you grab a can of pop. Here’s why…

A 12-oz. can of Coca-Cola Classic contains 41 g of sugars, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, or HSPH. A teaspoon is equivalent to 4.2 g of sugar, according to the HSPH. This means that a can of coke contains about 10 tsp. of sugar per can. The HSPH labels Coke as a drink that you should only consume sparingly and infrequently because of the relatively high sugar content. (source)

And that’s just in your pop! Check your cereals, yogurts, condiments, and other processed foods. How many teaspoons of sugar are you having in a day?

I looked at my salad dressing label recently and saw that when having a serving size of 2 tablespoons that I was eating one teaspoon of sugar. I since found a new salad dressing that has only 1 gram of sugar per serving.

When it comes to sugar, moderation is definitely key! The problem though is that you are probably getting your moderate amount of sugar without ever picking up a can of pop or a cookie.

“We humans need only two teaspoons of sugar in our body at any time in order to function properly. This amount can be obtained easily through the digestion of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Even if we were to eat no glucose or refined sugar at all, our bodies would still have plenty of sugar. Every extra teaspoon of refined sugar you eat works to throw the body out of balance and compromise its health.” ~Nancy Appleton

PS… You aren’t necessarily better off drinking diet pops. Studies show that those drinking diet gained more over time than those drinking regular pop.

Anyways... maybe try to check those grams of sugar on your nutrition labels today. How much sugar are you eating without even realizing it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Like No One Else...

Dave Ramsey always says "Live like no one else so that someday you can live like no one else."

That's the plan we've been living by. We've always been cheap. When we first got married we basically had nothing and no money. We were more than thankful for the kindness and generosity of others and were able to fill our first two bedroom apartment up with second hand furniture. Our couch wasn't comfortable... but it was a couch. And we were ok with it.

Since then we have been getting more and more hand-me-downs. We bought a few things second hand from garage sales or thrift stores. Very little of what we have is new. And what was new wasn't very expensive... like Jason's dresser... it's a $300 dresser that I got for about $120.

That was our most expensive piece of furniture... until today.

This morning Mike picked up another new to us couch for $125 making it our most expensive piece of furniture in the past nine years.

I'm kind of proud of that little statistic of ours.

My house may not match... but I think it's cozy. Comfortable. It feels lived in.

I don't have to worry if the kids spill on something because I didn't spend a ton of money on anything. I'm able to relax and not worry if someone has their shoes on the furniture. (I put my shoes on the furniture all the time.)

I like living cheap.

Living cheap has allowed us to pay off all debt and save up our 6 month emergency fund. (For those of you who don't know what that means it's just that we have enough money in a savings account to cover 6 months of expenses should we ever need it.) With that in place and additional savings we are ready to FINALLY start looking for a house to call our own.

But we have to be careful to not get carried away.

Will I get my dream home this time? Nope. Not even close. Can't even look in anything close to that price range.

We'll buy a cheap house with space that works for us. I was looking online the other day, just browsing, and I'm pretty sure that whatever house we move in to will be UGLY when we move in. As long as the structure is good and it has the right number of rooms I won't mind. I can handle ugly for a short time. Walls can be painted.

I'm not in a huge rush to find a house. We have a monthly lease so there is no deadline of when we need to move by. I've become used to waiting for the right thing to come along in the right time... whether it is furniture, an opportunity, a camera or a home. I have found that waiting can pay off. We spent six months looking for the house we are currently renting. It felt like forever but we found one that has worked so well for us.

I know that if I start looking and just trust God that our home will come... and it will be perfect for us. And it will not be a burden financially.

We will continue to live like no one else so that some day we can live like no one else... so that someday I can have my dream home and Mike can have his dream car and we can take the kind of vacations that we dream of... and we'll be able to pay cash. It will be sweet. It will be worth living cheaply now.

Anyone have any tips on buying a house?? I've never done that before!

Jason the Big 4 Year Old!

I can't believe my baby is FOUR!!

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We'll be celebrating all week.

We always have a little party with the grandparents but we weren't able to make that happen until next Saturday. So this past Saturday we had some friends over for a little play date and lunch. That made Jason pretty happy.

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Nick is a couple of years older than Jason but they just love each other a ton.

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Nick enjoyed wearing all of Liza's dress up stuff. :)

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We had lunch. And cupcakes.

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The kids played. Kim and I tried to talk over the noise.

The kids played some more.

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Today was actually Jason's birthday so he is officially four.

He woke up to balloons on the floor and a decorated door. I think he felt pretty special and that was the goal. We gave him his big gift right away. He got an iXL just like Liza did for Christmas. He's been playing hers a ton and was so excited to have his own.

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Then I went shopping for the rest of his gifts. I've been slacking lately.

Anyways... Jason is four now and more awesome than EVER! He also makes the best faces of anyone I have ever met.

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I love my awesome little four year old!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Today's Battle

Mike went to camp this weekend. Man Camp to be exact. It's a weekend for men to get together, talk about God, form new relationships and do manly things... like sports and guns and eating steaks for dinner. I talked to Mike on the phone yesterday and he sounded like he was having a great time.

Me? I'm miserable. Just so happens that I got the cold that Jason had last week and I am completely gross. I've gone through more tissues in a 24 hour period than anyone ever should. I sat here last night with a stuffed up nose, watering eyes and a migraine that made me feel like I was going to puke.

Nothing like being sick to make you miss your husband!

I'm still feeling pretty miserable today and I am really looking forward to Mike coming home! He's so good at taking care of me.

Anyways... what I really want to talk about is this...

Why is it sooo difficult to eat well when you have a cold?

Seriously! The only things that sound good right now are potato chips and those cupcakes sitting on the counter. The good-for-me-foods aren't appealing at all.

Why do I think that those cupcakes are the only thing that would taste good!?!?! I made them so that Jason could have some with his friends yesterday... he turns four tomorrow. I only made 12. Threw the rest of the batter out. But I still have seven sitting on the counter. I would throw those out too but then I would just have to make MORE for tomorrow.

But they are so tempting right now!

And the chocolate icing that is in the fridge? I could eat it by the spoonfuls.

But fruit? Vegetables? Sandwiches? The thought of those things almost makes me feel even more sick than I am.

How backwards and messed up is that!?!? Those sugary, greasy things would actually make me feel worse I am sure. Not to mention that sugar suppresses  the  immune system. Is it a comfort thing? Am I just remembering how much I like those not-good-for-me foods? Why do I want those things and nothing else? How do I end this torture?

I'm not actually going to eat those things because I KNOW they aren't what I need right now. But I'm stuck because I'm really hungry and I have no food that I want to eat. Anyone want to run to Panera for me and pick up some chicken noodle soup and a whole grain baguette for me? THAT would be a good choice for eating at the moment.

Maybe Mike will stop for me on his way home.

Oh... and drinking water while having a cold?? GROOOOSSSSSSSSSS! I usually LOVE water. It's pretty much all I drink. But I'm feeling quite dehydrated because I just. can't. drink. it. Any suggestions for that problem? Or do I just need to force myself to drink it?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fitness Friday: Workout DVD Review

No More Trouble Zones with Jillian Michaels

This is another dvd that I love to hate... or is it hate to love? I'm not sure which way it is.

No More Trouble Zones is a dvd that focuses on toning up the muscles... especially the ones in those trouble zones.

Jillian starts off by letting me know that she is about to show me how to minimize the muffin top, transform these wobbly arms and lose the saddle bags once and for all. I don't know about you but I'll do anything to get rid of those things!

For this dvd you simply need some small weights (I use two and three pound weights) and a mat if you are on a hard floor.

Jillian uses her circuit style to work all of your muscles and let me just say... it's no walk in the park! In each circuit there is a set of five exercises and you repeat the set twice. Your muscles will be well worked! Especially the abs! Jillian makes me want to cry during those. Of course my abs are so completely weak because I had two kids seventeen months apart and haven't worked my abs since. (Not smart!)

No More Trouble Zones lasts about an hour (maybe fifty minutes... I forgot to pay attention) from start to finish. The nice thing is that if you don't have an hour you can pick and choose which circuits you would like to do. Only want to do abs? There are two circuits to target that. Or you could just do your triceps after finishing a different workout. Lots of options for using this dvd!

And Jillian is nice enough to remind us that we want our arms to be smokin hot since they are the one part of our body that pretty much everyone sees naked. She also lets us know that she is helping us to achieve a natural lift for our girls.

It really is a great workout! Even though it is a toning/strength workout you will get your heart rate up and you will be glad when it is over.

I recommend this dvd!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Love Pizza and I Love Mushrooms (recipe)

I've been trying to make better, healthier choices when it comes to meals. Some things are tough... Like pizza. I LOVE pizza! The problem is that I eat too much of it. I'm sure you all know that pizza is a meal all by itself and you need nothing else to go with it. You just keep eating another piece of pizza until you are full. And then you probably have one more slice just because it's so good and you can't stop yourself.

Oh. You don't have that problem?

Well I'm working on not having that problem any longer.

One time I tried this Cauliflower Crust Pizza...

It was good and I might make it again sometime... but it wasn't pizza. And it was also a little bit of work.

And here's the thing... I will always have a piece of pizza if it is being served but I no longer want that to be the only thing. So I was still hoping for options.

I was at my sister's during the superbowl this year and she had a friend over and her friend made mushroom pizzas... as in mushrooms with sauce and cheese and oh my YUM! I looove mushrooms and this just seemed to be the perfect thing for me.

So last night pizza was on the menu. Mike made a pizza... he makes the dough half white flour/half whole wheat flour so it's already slightly better for us. I did have a piece of that but I filled up on my mushroom pizza!


(A food photographer I am not.)

These are REALLY SIMPLE to make.


-portabella mushrooms
-pizza sauce
-mozzarella cheese

Clean out the stems of mushrooms.
Place them in a dish and bake at 450 degrees for 7-10 minutes.
They will fill up with mushroom juice... dump that out.
Fill up the mushroom with pizza sauce.
Top with cheese.
Put back in the oven until the cheese is melted.


Courageous Winner

Some people let me know that they were having difficulty leaving a comment so I picked a winner the old fashioned way... put each name on a piece of paper and had Liza pick one for me.

The winner of the Courageous dvd is Brandy!!!

Brandy and I worked at camp together my first summer back in 1999. (Eww! That was really weird to write! Can you believe we've been starting our years with "20" for so long!? I just felt old hahaha.) Anyways... I think Brandy is a great person to win this movie seeing that she has a husband and a house full of boys!

Congratulations Brandy! I'll be needing your address. :)

I have another giveaway coming up next week! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Like Gifts

So... Valentine's day. :)

It's a day that I always go into with zero expectations. I don't make plans and I just figure no one else will either. It's just Valentine's Day.

That means that I was totally surprised when Mike handed me a little gift box at breakfast.

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I had seen the ring on etsy a while back and sometimes I'll just email Mike a link. That way whenever he feels like buying me a gift (it's my love language) he has some ideas. Although if he bought me something I hadn't suggested that would be fine too!

So he had an idea... and I had no idea he actually ordered it... the day I sent the link! Good man. :)

After breakfast Liza and I headed to church for Bible study. Jason had a cold so he stayed with Mike and they went off to do some shopping. I came home to a cute little bundle of carnations from my guys. They make my heart happy!

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And then... because I finally had a good reason to... I made a lightbox to take the photos of my ring and flowers.

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Hooray for lovelies from my loves!!

Polar Bears are Awesome!

Remember how I go to the zoo all the time? And how for the longest time all I wanted was to see the polar bear swim? And then about three times in a row I would get there and the bears would be in the water and as soon as I got in the tunnel they would get out? And then how I FINALLY got to see the polar bears swim and it was incredibly, amazingly awesome because it was just me and my family in the tunnel with the bear? And then we went again and had a similar experience? Well now we are at three times in a row of the polar bear swimming.

I think the zoo thinks we are cool and the animals all know that they are supposed to be awesome when we come now. :)

We got to the polar bear exhibit and the bear was doing his thing, pacing around.

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After a little while Mike and the kids started walking on to the next thing but I was all "No! I'm not leaving yet! He's going to swim. I just KNOW it!"

But they were off and playing a little ways down the walk.

And I kept waiting and watching.

Bear thought about it...

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walked up to the edge...

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looked at the water...

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thought about it some more...

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looked right at me (I know it was me because I was the only one standing there)...

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And then he was in the water swimming around!!

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He swam for a minute and then went to the edge, shook off the water...

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and then he turned and gave me a smile. :)

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We're friends now. I want to go live with the polar bears.

There was a lot more swimming and playing from the polar bear and I stood there until he was done. My kids did come back to see it eventually and they were glad that I made them all wait a bit.

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I love the Pittsburgh Zoo and I love polar bears!!

Monday, February 13, 2012


I was given a copy of the movie Courageous by Focus on the Family to give away on my blog. (At least I think that is who it came from. There was a FB post one day saying something along the lines of "if you have a blog and want to do a giveaway email us with your blog link." So I did. A few days later I got an email saying I was awarded the prize pack and a few days later the movie came in the mail. No other explanations or anything.)

So yeah... I have a copy of Courageous and I'm supposed to give it away.

The trailer...

We saw this movie in the theater when it first came out and we really loved it a lot. It was well done. Made me laugh till I cried and then it made me sob my face off. It really hits home and has a great message. While the message is directed at men and more specifically, fathers, it is a movie that anyone can gain something from.

Mike had a friend over to watch the movie when I was in Florida so the winner will receive a once-watched copy of Courageous. 

Mike highly recommends the movie and says it was very inspirational. He also said it was sobering... the importance of "being there" for your kids because children that grow up without fathers have a greater chance of getting in trouble as they grow up was really stressed in the movie. But just being present isn't enough either. It's important to take an active role in the lives of your kids.

Courageous is about doing what it takes.

For a chance to win the Courageous DVD all you need to do is leave a comment here answering this question...

What is the last good movie that you watched? 

You do not have to have a blogger account to enter but you will want to make sure your name is somewhere in the comment.

Winner will be randomly selected on Thursday, February 16th, and announced on the blog.

NOTE: A couple people have told me that they are having trouble leaving a comment. If you can't leave one either let me know on my facebook or send me an email at emaillaurawick(at)gmail(dot)com and I will keep track of all entries and pull a name out of a hat at the end.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


If you are tired of looking at pictures of animals feel free to just click out now. I have more pics I'll be posting over the next few days. I can't help it. I went to two different zoos in one week. And I love animals... at least the ones at the zoo. You'll never catch me owning a pet. :)

Tigers have always been one of my favorite animals. I have no idea why. Maybe because they are just so gorgeous? Who knows. But I'm loving that our zoo currently has four tigers! And since we hung out with the tigers forever while Liza played hide and seek with one, I took a gazillion pictures. So here are some more...

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(Hey Lindsey... these next two are for Brayden!)

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(Too bad the glass was so nasty.)

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The kids want a book about tigers now. Guess I should get working on that since I just got more free photo books from

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